Second crops and Cat Nights

This spell from the first-day-of-school through Labor Day (week)) I am working non-stop:  M-F at school, F-Sun at the track.    I have managed, however, to plant a couple of rows of bush beans, some sugar snap peas, and some pole beans, and a small circle of spinach.  Gone are the Romas, done in by the fusarium after a brave battle, and the zucchini never did much, so I removed them as well.  The fennel and dill have been harvested and replaced with cilantro, and most of the carrots and onions have been pulled.   The tomatoes are still loaded with green tomatoes, but for now there’s no pressure to fix or eat them.

During this lull in the edible garden, we are focused on the front yard landscape.  It’s a good time to plant trees or shrubs and I’ve been cruising our local nurseries for ideas.   I love the planning stage…low expenditure of energy…

My Old Farmers Almanac gives some good advice about gardening and keeps me informed on the celestial scene.  I marked my calendar for this event:

Cat Nights Begin

The term “Cat Nights” harks back to a rather obscure old Irish legend concerning witches and the belief that a witch could turn herself into a cat eight times, but on the ninth time (August 17), she couldn’t regain her human form. This bit of folklore also gives us the saying, “A cat has nine lives.” Because August is a yowly time for cats, this may have prompted the speculation about witches on the prowl in the first place.

Yowl on, kittens…     gardening4

 

sorry about the rudbeckia…

It’s back to school for me today..!   I’m floored that another break has flown by, but it’s really a cultural illusion.  The old-fashioned summer vacation is really only 6 weeks of summer, (4 of spring). and fall is still 6 weeks away.  In the garden, that’s time to grow a whole ‘nother crop of green beans, spinach, and onions, as well as a nice stand of zinnias or sunflowers.  Of course, the most dramatic changes have already occurred…

 

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Sometimes I hate to admit what a bad flawed gardener I am…and this latest confession is due to laziness, as well…>sigh<…  Rudbeckia are a sturdy, long-suffering perennial and I have been growing them for years.  So many years have I been growing them, in fact, that the same 3 plants that I bought 20 years ago are still giving;  I’ve divided them into literally hundreds.  Recently, though, I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t divided them as I ought to, and it caught up with me.  I didn’t take a picture of the ugly brown leaves that look as if they’re not getting water, but it’s air they lack.  They’ve become so crowded that I had to take up an entire bed-full and toss them.  The larger bed I should be able to divide and move…mostly…

 

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In the middle of the wasteland, there sprung a bush of flowers that towered over the carnage, somehow untarnished by the surrounding blight…There’s a parable in there somewhere…

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Note to self:  divide rudbeckia, echinacea, daisies, daylilies, and the like every 2-3 years…   It ought to be fun figuring out where to move all these black-eyed susans;  we’ve recently bermed a spot in our front yard that sort of screams for them, but there will be a Lot  to share.  If you would like to have a clump, just yell.

 

The growing…

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Well, that seems like the fastest season ever—my grandkids came and went like a storm…a good one that drops rain just where it’s needed and leaves a rainbow on its way out…  The first evening they were here, back on July 8, I helped them plant a couple rows of zinnias.  We pretty much dropped the whole package in a little trench and the seedlings were up within a week.  They seem to be on hold now, and I’ll thin them out soon, but I have the faith to see them as blooming reminders of our creative powers, at any age.

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Out on the newly-screened front porch, we had a clear view of the bees and birds as they perched on the coneflower and daisies.  It was a good time to learn how important those players are in the botany of desire—and the essential lesson that bees are not aggressive, stinging, bad guys, but rather just the opposite.

I’m headed back to school next week—Next Week!!   There are a few holes in the garden that I’ll fill in with beans, peas, and spinach, but most of the work now is being done in the kitchen…tomato salads, pesto, and grilled peppers and squash…

The tomatoes are prolific right now, so I’m currently dedicated to eating them, but slicing and/or eating them like apples isn’t quite enough to keep up with the abundance.

Here’s a recipe I fixed yesterday, gone today…  It’s from an old article from 8/4/00 titled, “Too Many Tomatoes?  Make Salsa!”

The Mediterranean:  Chopped tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and Capers, with red wine vinaigrette.

I will be making this little gem today:

Greek Salsa:  Chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, black olives, feta cheese, with red wine vinaigrette.

The red wine vinaigrette is simply half red wine vinegar, half canola oil (or olive if you like), garlic, oregano, basil, or other fresh-snipped herbs, pepper and mix.

Try this one, too:

Corny Bean Salsa:  chopped tomatoes, corn kernels, black beans, minced Jalapeno peppers with cilantro-lime dressing.

The delicious dressing is made by mixing up a half-cup lime juice, half-cup canola oil, and mixing in granulated sugar, garlic, and chopped cilantro to taste…

Mmm….

 

Picture Post

I’ve got to leave for work in just a few minutes, so I’m going to just show you some pictures that I took 6/30.  The rains have been generous and the daytime temps have been kindly, so both the garden and I love it.  We have feasted on cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, green beans and 2 better boys from the garden, and it looks like we’ll have plenty for the grandkids to pick when they arrive next week.

Have a great 4th of July!

Oh, just one more thing, check out my blueberries…

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Two more of the bushes are covered, and I’m waiting for the grands to pick them.  The raspberries are sort of finished, but there may be a few left for them to eat, too.

Checking in…

The grandchildren from NYC have come and gone.  While they were here, they helped bring in some tomatoes, trimmed some oregano, and just generally enjoyed looking out for the bunnies.  City girls are especially intrigued by the sound of the tree flies at night and the sight of the sloughed skin stuck to a tree is the stuff of legends…   I need a bat house, though, to take care of the mosquitoes;  my daughter and her progeny are verry reactive to the bites (as am I) and DEET is so Deetish.

Regardless of who does the regarding, the garden continues to grow.  The squash, at last overcome by the powdery mildew despite my valiant efforts, has been pulled after producing just a few;  the green beans have been harvested and eaten.  The empty rows are “resting” and I’ll get some more beans planted and maybe some greens.  I’m steadily harvesting bell peppers and all varieties of tomatoes.  In the center garden, the pineapple sage are robust and the lavendar hedge is finally stretching up…mostly.  I need to move the tarragon and rosemary, plenty of that, but overall it’s a lovely garden.

 

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The front porch flowers have stood up well under the summer’s wind and rains.  I did some dead-heading the several days ago, and always pinch the marigolds and geraniums when i’m walking by;  otherwise, they’ve required little fuss…

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It’s been a lovely summer break and weather has been unusually co-operative…   I’m still working the week-ends at the race-track and I’ll be starting back to my school-job in 5 days.   It makes me look forward to harvest and the fall, but Not Yet…

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